Alberta, Canada

Oh, Alberta. It’s on the bucket list of many and it certainly is, was on mine. September 2022.

The beautiful Canadian Rockies. Within four hours reach via airplane. It is worth it and a must see.

Canmore. A resort town of sorts. It definitely is a place to consider home. A great community to stay while you’re exploring the area. A favorite for brunch, breakfast was at Graze. https://grazefoodanddrink.ca/ The Graze Egg Classic was all-around fabulous. Hats off to the chef who contributed, did it all.

Banff. Walk the town. Take in a meal. Do the Banff Gondola. See the sunset. Have a bear (or a beer) at Three Bears Brewery https://threebearsbanff.com/, a lunch at Nourish (especially if you’re vegan). The Boss Bear Burger was a hit as well as their cocktail of the day. https://www.nourishbistro.com/. And for a real treat, have dinner at The Bison. https://www.thebison.ca/ The ambiance with the live music and the tasty meal is a showstopper. The Bison Burger, The Bison Caesar (pork belly croutons) and the Sunrise Meadow cocktail and Black Sage Cabernet Sauvignon was a hit! We missed seeing the elk herd walking the streets of town. https://banff.com/banff-gondola/

Check out the Jasper National Park… Icefields Parkway. The glacier blue lakes, the exquisite cliffs and jagged mountains against the blue sky. We took the trip to https://icefieldsparkway.com/ https://jaspercolumbiaicefield.com/ Staying here would be an amazing experience at the right time of year https://www.banffjaspercollection.com/hotels/glacier-view-lodge/

Lake Louise. Walk the trail or get in a canoe. Take in a bite and a view at the Fairmont Chateau Hotel. https://www.fairmont.com/lake-louise/ I can recommend the Candied Farmers Vegetable Bowl. So good.

Don’t miss out. Plan ahead. Enjoy the beauty, the landscape, the destination.

Deception Pass State Park

One of the most beautiful places on earth…Deception Pass State Park. And… 2022 is the 100th Anniversary of this fine park.

Camping. Picnicking.

Beaches. North Beach. West Beach.

Hiking. Goose Rock Summit.

History. Kokwalalwoot, the Maiden of Deception Pass at Rosario Beach.

Recreation. Bowman Bay.

Entertainment. Live music, education and more at the Amphitheater.

Beauty.

Support. https://deceptionpassfoundation.org/

https://www.parks.wa.gov/497/Deception-Pass

Victoria BC and more

Are you wanting to explore Vancouver Island a bit more? Taking the Black Ball/Coho Ferry from Port Angeles to Victoria BC is a good way to travel depending on your location. Making Victoria your home base, it makes for a good 2-3 night adventure. Traveling further north would mean a 1-2 week trip. So much to see, experience.

In Port Angeles, while waiting to board the ferry, make a stop at both the Next Door Gastro Pub and then the Country Aire Natural Foods Market for some snacks, lunch or other to take aboard. At Next Door, the fish tacos (non-blackened and grilled), were ordered, the cabbage and pickled adds really made it tasty. The local Lazy Soul hot sauce is recommended and can be purchased at the market mentioned here. https://www.camarket.org/ https://nextdoorgastropub.com/

Victoria’s Inner Harbour – Walk through the Empress. View the indigenous totem poles. Enjoy the hanging flowering baskets around town. Shop for your tourism swag. https://www.travel-british-columbia.com/blog/where-to-see-totem-poles-in-british-columbia

Eat. NUBO Kitchen + Bar (they have a busy take-out option too). https://nubokitchen.com/

Stay. Strathcona. http://strathcona.victoria-hotelcanada.com/en/

Malahat Sky Walk – See the natural beauty of the trees and animals made of branches, twigs along the walkway. The 360-degree views from the Spiral Tower are amazing. You’ll see views of the Salish Sea, Saanich Peninsula, and more. Walk the tower and take the slide down if you’re up for it. All abilities are welcome. Those that work there are so friendly. The gift shop has many options that you’ll want to take home with you (I did!). https://malahatskywalk.com/

Cowichan Bay – Shop in the village. Sailboats, fishing, houseboats, and history of Cowichan Bay is showcased here. The Halibut Burger and Pan-fried Oysters hit the spot at The Bay Pub. And we got our first taste of the Victoria local Fat Tug Beer. Yes!

Visit a winery or two while in this area. Many of the grapes, varietals are unique to Vancouver Island and you’ll try something new I’m sure. I was able to get my hands on a beautiful book named ‘Cedar + Salt’ – Vancouver Island recipes from forest, farm, field, and sea. The natural aspects of it really sings to me.

Kinsol Trestle – The Kinsol Trestle is also part of the Cowichan area. You’ll definitely get your steps in by visiting this 144-foot high attraction. This wooden trestle was originally built to transport timber (and other) by rail through the canyons, ravines. It was completed in 1920 and then after 1979, no trains made their way across it and not preserved. In 2007 plans were made to restore it and it is now part of the Trans Canada Trail network and it remains one of the loftiest wood railway trestles in the world. There are two points of access. Enjoy the views, have a picnic. So cool! https://www.tourismcowichan.com/explore/destinations-attractions/kinsol-trestle/ and https://www.cvrd.ca/1379/Kinsol-Trestle

Dinner at The Snug Pub at Oak Bay Beach Hotel. Great views of the Pacific Ocean and we can attest that the beef burger, fish & chips, seafood chowder are hits. Oak Bay is a great neighborhood with fabulous beaches, like Willows Beach. There are unique trees in this area called Garry Oak and contributes to it being a photographers paradise. https://www.oakbaybeachhotel.com/ https://www.mustbevictoria.com/willows-beach

Butchart Gardens – in Spring, you’ll see tulips, hanging baskets, roses, and a lot more in bloom. It is open year-round and you’ll see different plantings based on seasons. https://www.butchartgardens.com/

Fisherman’s Wharf neighborhood – Take a harbour or whale watching tour, shop, dine. Check out the commercial vessels, floating homes, boats and more. Eat at The Fish Store at Fisherman’s Wharf. Sooooo good! Enjoyed Fat Tug IPA, Halibut & Chips, and Fraser River Sturgeon while sharing a table in the sun with other visitors to the area. https://driftwoodbeer.ca/beers/fat-tug-ipa/ https://floatingfishstore.com/the-fish-store-menu/ https://gvha.ca/marinas-facilities/fishermans-wharf/

From Fisherman’s Wharf, we walked the neighborhood to The Breakwater District at Ogden Point, did the walkway and viewed the large cruise ships in port. This was a great add to the day before leaving Victoria. https://www.victoriaharbourhistory.com/locations/outer-harbour/the-breakwater-district/

A sampling of cheer. Go often.

Deception Pass State Park

So, Deception Pass State Park. The most beautiful multi-beach park beauty. I want my ashes spread at Rosario Beach, Deception Pass State Park…one day. Whether it be the views of the waterways, the rocky beaches and the walking trails, views of the most beautiful area of the world. #pnw It is peace and it contains Rosario Beach, Bowman Bay, North/West Beach of this beautiful part of the Pacific Northwest. I may edit this but on this last day of April 2022, I need to celebrate and share my pics of 04.09.22. It was a very windy day. A few of these pics are of La Conner, WA too. A great starting point of a beautiful #pnw day.

https://stateparks.com/deception_pass_state_park_in_washington.html

Chuckanut Drive and Larrabee State Park

On a beautiful day in April, Spring outings are a must. I was fortunate to take the day off and drive north to see the tulip fields and then on to Bellingham via Chuckanut Drive. The #pnw did not disappoint. As I meandered and stopped at a number of viewpoints, and due to timing missed a stop at Taylor Shellfish, I kept to my schedule and was able to visit Larrabee State Park. The experience showcased a trail in the woods, colorful artwork, walking through a tunnel as a train was traveling above, and experiencing the beauty of the coast, a rocky beach that exhibits sea creatures under the rocks and beautiful views of the Samish Bay. I purchased a Discover Pass this year and recommend it. It supports both the parks and in exploring the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Larrabee State Park sits on Chuckanut Mountain near Bellingham and is known for its postcard views of Samish Bay and the San Juan Islands. It is also Washington’s first state park. So interesting, eh? This park has a small number of camping sites available for booking. https://www.parks.wa.gov/Facilities/Facility/Details/Larrabee-State-Park-124 or https://stateparks.com/larrabee_state_park_in_washington.html

So much beauty to share…

The Lodge… Cedar + Elm and more

As the name suggests, I have to love this restaurant as I love the natural elements. I’ve been The Lodge at St. Edward Start Park twice in the last week. Thanks to a friend for introducing me. I’ve always liked to try new restaurants and explore the Pacific Northwest. I used to say I wanted to go to try a different restaurant or experience each month. That has not been the case but it’s never to late to renew this goal. It’s the beginning of 2022 so maybe I’ll make it a habit. Speaking of habits, ‘Habit’ is my word of 2022. I need to change some of mine and create new ones.

So, Cedar and Elm. The ambiance is European to me. There is a piano on Friday and Saturday evenings which really adds to it. If you check out their website, you’ll see the menu exudes holistic and sustainable, seasonal, local offerings for breakfast, lunch, dinner, brunch and more. The St. Edward High Tea on Thursdays speaks to me for a special afternoon out with a special family member or friend.

Cedar + Elm is located in The Lodge at St. Edward State Park. Check out the history of at https://www.thelodgeatstedward.com/. The Lodge at St Edward State Park is part of Columbia Hospitality which showcases their fine portfolio including the Salish Lodge and Spa, another of my favorites. https://www.columbiahospitality.com/portfolio.php Be prepared to use the valet parking service after 5 pm as the parking lots around the site are Discover Pass related and close for the evening. https://www.thelodgeatstedward.com/dining At some point I would like to explore the trails at the park.

The menu is seasonal. As this is Winter, the first time around was the Hearth Roasted Mero Sea Bass with glazed shitake mushrooms and a bite of the apple tatin and pecan torte for dessert. I’m not a big dessert person but it was a nice ending to a good experience. I would skip the chips and dip as it’s just an unnecessary calorie filler. My friend had the Roasted Parsnip & Cauliflower soup (a big hit!) and the Crispy Shaved Celery Salad. There were plenty of people, larger groups, romantic couples that took space amongst the tables.

The second visit was for happy hour in The Tonsorium Bar located downstairs. The bar used to be a barbershop back in the day when the building was a seminary. Prior to the visit we were able to walk the grounds on the sunny winter day. Trees are my thing so I was in a happy place. As it was my husband’s birthday, we did it up well. We ordered the following and all was tasty: Pork Sandwich with fries, Local Oysters on the Half Shell, Artisan American Cheeses, Pate de Campagne, and Crisp Arancini Di Pulpi along with a sparkling wine and more. The description noted of the pecan torte was ‘off the hook’ – pure pecan bliss without the sugary mess. Katie is fabulous!!! Also, enjoyed the chat and neo-flamenco guitar performance of Andre Feriante. https://www.andreferiante.com/

Another visit might include a stay here. The Lodge has 84 rooms and also hosts space for meetings, special events like a wedding, and has spa services. The local art shown among lodge/park is impressive. My personal favorite was the ‘Rivan Stump’ piece by Robert Williamson; made of salvaged wood with brass nails. One day. You can see these beauties behind the front desk too.

The following pics are a sampling of the lodge, park grounds, and items enjoyed.

Washington State Park free days, 2022

If you’re looking for a free day to explore Washington State Parks (no Discover Pass required). Where would you like to go?

Saturday, Jan. 1 – New Year’s Day
Monday, Jan. 17 – Martin Luther King Day
Wednesday, March 9 – Billy Frank Jr.’s birthday
Saturday, March 19 – Washington State Parks’ birthday
Friday, April 22 – Earth Day
Saturday, June 11 – National Get Outdoors Day
Sunday, June 12 – Free Fishing Weekend
Sunday, June 19 – Juneteenth
Saturday, Sept. 24 – National Public Lands Day
Monday, Oct. 10 – World Mental Health Day
Friday, Nov. 11 – Veterans Day
Friday, Nov. 25 – Native American Heritage Day

List provided by Deception Pass Park Foundation. https://deceptionpassfoundation.org/

Another free option is to check out your local library and borrow a Discover Pass. https://www.sno-isle.org/news/want-to-see-nature-borrow-a-discover-pass-from-us/

Or purchase a Discover Pass and help support the beauty that us Washingtonians are so fortunate to enjoy. https://store.discoverpass.wa.gov/

Winter Solstice

Today is December 21st, Winter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere. It’s the shortest day of the year.

“In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me lay an invincible summer.” -Albert Camus

Do you do anything differently? Go for a run, walk outside in the elements?

How are you celebrating? I’ll be watching the Seahawks vs Rams game but at the same time I’m acknowledging the change of seasons. If you want to create a new tradition to celebrate the change of this season, a few suggestions (thanks and credit to vivobarefoot):

• Make a solstice candle. Candle kits are widely available. You could go colourful, or add warming oils like clove or cinnamon.

• Create a winter mandala or collage – you might forage for materials on a winter walk.

• Make ornaments from paper and card – and ‘bless a tree’ – our ancestors gave thanks to the gods of old by leaving gifts in the forest (if you do this, make sure to use materials that won’t litter and don’t contain plastics – like glitter).

Or maybe you’ll find time just to take 5 minutes to pause and reflect on the turning of our amazing earth. 

Autumn exists

October in the Pacific Northwest has seen stunning color this year.

We’ve seen rain, wind and also a 70 degree fall day.

A leisurely stroll, getting steps in

Feeling the warm breeze, seeing the trees move with the wind

Hearing the crisp leaves move along the road

Autumn exists.